J.R. said the man in the helmet said, “Goodbye, my friend,” before shooting his father in the chest. His body sank, but the man shot him twice more, in the head and cheeks. The children said the three men were laughing as they left.*
-Daniel Berehulak, They Are Slaughtering Us Like Animals, New York Times
The world is watching you slowly die.
Tattered truths & losing sense of life
captivate your battered night. Mud hurls blood
streets batted with horror & blabbed
anonymous spirits ghostlier than ever.
(Even ghostlier than your Martial Law days)
Manila, tranquilize yourself.
Your rest will be disturbed by scourged souls, thunderous cracks of guns,
bullets hitting flesh, motorcycle tandem arrests,
people’s holy shouts shunning shibboleth sounding death.
Hear them not. Sleep well.
Maggots festering wound. Manila,
on your knees, worms stich your broken nerves
healing gunshot wounds with peace.
Your night will be a train of madness
shattered by lies through morbid holes in skulls
& confessions in cardboard signs.
(Justice today is served cold, so cold)
& everything from that day on is simply to be known
as a cold just.
Truth decays. Life smolders, vanishing.
Your nights will be unthreaded from memories
for no one dares to look back to twisted arms clenched
by plastic strips, head bowing to ground (instead of ground
bowing to head), ground kissing the body naked swarmed
either by grease or blood, the body breaking gossips
among gossipers & gossamer among spiders.
Weep not, dead men tell no fiction.
Their bodies are the shocking truth, forsaken
shocking headlines hissing morning papers
peppered with mint or lies.
Manila, goodnight for your night will be remembered
through vigilant myths & nothing more.
Often cold bodies, freezing voices from limbo,
can’t speak nor bothered the living.
Again, Manila, in your arms, dead men tell no tales.
The killing spree of fragmented morality,
mortality, fatality, vanity, sanity, insanity, apathy.
Manila, do not move. You are now sedated with fear,
stronger than cooked methamphetamine of crooked realities,
no less than a drug making your anxious, bothered
in the darker & dimmer night
in dimmer & darker disaster.
Manila, walk with your graffiti walls.
Your gutters will be banks of blood. Daylight traffic
will erase your night’s unwelcoming sphere. Last night
persists as tiny figment of imaginings photographed
& again, nothing more.
Everything will pass like hyacinths of Pasig River.
Everything will pass like one’s eternal passing.
Everything will pass like a chilling December wind.
Everything will pass either a typhoon or a butterfly fluttering.
Manila, goodnight. I am afraid they will ****** you
in your sleep. I am afraid that everything will just pass
like your breath losing hold of your lungs then your heart.
I am afraid that your death, my dear Manila,
will just be a neighbourhood rumour passing
& everything turns into a fiasco of a madman who believes
that he is a messiah, was he a messiah or never he will be a messiah.
Manila goodnight, I will watch you in your sleep. Your sleep
will be a thousand fold peace. No more of your sons or daughters
will be killed at least not in my memory.
Manila, here comes the night. Sleep,
sleep holy in the hidden lair of my mind. Your
catacomb will be wreathed by flowers & tears.
Incense will be fragrant burning bones. Your life,
your tired life will be a gentle ebbing of time
like your Bay’s sunset beauty, like your lively street people
like your once known heritage, your life
in the busy daybreak of your kindred sons.
Goodnight, my dear Manila.
I invite you to read Daniel Berehulak’s coverage of Philippines’ War on Drugs here: